Over five months after Daniel Prude died in police custody during a mental health breakdown, the police officers involved have finally been suspended.
The New York Times reports on Thursday (Sept 3) that Lovely Warren, the mayor Rochester, New York, where the horrific incident took place, took the disciplinary action against seven officers associated with Prude’s death. The names of the officers have not been made public.
The cops had placed a hood over Prude’s head while taking him into custody, causing him to suffocate, records released by activists and his family say.
Rochester police is reportedly doing an internal investigation and New York State Attorney General Letitia James is doing a separate investigation.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a statement, “For the sake of Mr. Prude’s family and the greater Rochester community, I am calling for this case to be concluded as expeditiously as possible. For that to occur, we need the full and timely cooperation of the Rochester Police Department and I trust it will fully comply.”
The New York Times reports Prude, 41, was removed from life support and died March 30.
Seven days prior, he had been visiting from Chicago when he ran out of the home of his brother, Joe, while having a mental episode. He had been running through the streets when police picked him up. He had been taken to a hospital the day before after having a mental health issue. His brother had called 911 for help.
A truck driver had also called 911, reporting that a man with no clothes was running in the streets and attempting to break into a car, saying he had the coronavirus.
A body camera video shown on the Democrat and Chronicle’s website shows Prude disrobed and in handcuffs and shouting when police put the hood on his head in an apparent attempt to prevent him from spitting. When he shouts for an officer’s gun, cops push him to the ground. At that point they place him in a restraint position with one officer holding his head down and another with his knee on his back.
After about two minutes, Prude stops moving and an officer sees that he has thrown up. A paramedic is called to perform CPR and he is hospitalized. A medical examiner ruled Prude’s death a homicide from “complications of asphyxia in the setting of physical restraint,” an autopsy report says.
The report also notes that Prude was suffering excited delirium and was intoxicated by PCP.
The body camera footage was obtained August 20 by Prude’s family lawyer Elliot Dolby-Shields, through an open records request, according to the Times. It was later released to the public.
"We are in need of accountability for the wrongful death and murder of Daniel Prude. He was treated inhumanely and without dignity," said Ashley Gantt, with Free the People Roc and the New York Civil Liberties Union, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle. "These officers killed someone and are still patrolling in our community."
See new video obtained by CBS This Morning, below:
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Photo by Rochester Police via Roth and Roth LLP via AP